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It is disturbingly common for individuals to let self-sabotaging thoughts run rampant while still being fully aware that they will inevitably lead to deeply harmful and incredibly hard-to-break self-sabotaging habits. Sadly, good intentions are rarely enough to disrupt this vicious cycle, and yet many individuals choose not to seek professional help to support overcoming self-sabotage. 

Instead, they struggle silently with self-sabotaging thoughts every moment of every day, even at work. While leaders may not have the power to direct them to seek expert assistance, it is possible to encourage this with trauma-informed care in the workplace. By offering understanding and empathy, leaders can create a safe space that eliminates triggers for self-sabotaging behavior and increases employee well-being.

It requires a collaborative effort to build a trauma-informed workplace. 

Before leadership and employees can unite to forge a path toward a more positive and productive environment, they need a roadmap that will aid in navigating the most direct route. This is where a mental health keynote speaker comes in. An expert mental health speaker possesses the experience and knowledge to chart a course toward increased compassion, understanding and commitment to well-being.  

The Root Cause of Self-Sabotage

Understanding the root causes of self-sabotage is the key to unlocking its deepest, darkest secrets and taking distinct steps toward overcoming them. Self-sabotage defines unconscious patterns of behavior and thoughts that hinder an individual’s growth and overall well-being. Self-sabotaging thoughts are rooted in negative self-perceptions, limiting beliefs and a lack of self-compassion.  

While these thoughts often manifest in behavior that is harmful in the workplace, they originate from within. One’s deep-seated, unconscious beliefs that have been formed since early childhood influence today’s thoughts and actions. These beliefs lead to inaccurate perceptions, such as “I’m not good enough,” and can hinder progress. 

Self-sabotaging thoughts are profoundly influential and remarkably challenging to overcome. 

Recognizing Self-Sabotage at Work

In theory, self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors only cause harm to oneself. In reality, the ensuing destruction is rarely limited to the person exhibiting self-sabotaging behavior. In one’s personal life, this often means that family and friends are left picking up the pieces or mending broken hearts as their loved one refuses to give themselves the meaningful care, grace and love they deserve.

In the workplace, the impact can be just as devastating as it disrupts collaboration and can cause other employees to feel uncomfortable or even unsafe. Despite this, a leader’s hands are tied to an extent as they can only address the actions resulting from the behavior, rather than delving into its root cause. To create a trauma-informed workplace and mitigate irreparable damage caused by self-sabotaging habits, leaders must first recognize how they play out at work. 

1. Disorganization

Self-sabotage that manifests as disorganization creates a level of chaos that is contagious. One individual’s disorganization can hamper productivity overall, especially in a workplace that values collaboration and teamwork. Additionally, the stress that arises from sustained chaos can affect individual and team performance and lead to exhaustion and burnout. 

2. Indecisiveness 

Indecisiveness is one of the quickest ways to slow down or even halt forward progress. Encompassing negative traits such as second-guessing, fear of mistakes and difficulty committing, indecisiveness is frustrating to everyone involved. In order to deploy effective decision-making, an individual must overcome indecisiveness by building self-trust, practicing mindfulness and seeking advice. 

3. Perfectionism 

Another harmful trait born out of self-sabotaging thoughts is perfectionism. Setting high standards, being self-critical, and possessing a fear of failure all combine to create a virtually unbreakable cycle. In the workplace, this often means projects aren’t completed when they don’t meet these unattainable expectations. Dealing with missed deadlines and excessive time spent on tasks is stressful for everyone involved. Overcoming the expectation of being perfect requires adopting a growth mindset, setting realistic goals and embracing mistakes as learning opportunities.

4. Procrastination

A self-sabotaging habit that also hinders progress is procrastination. When an individual delays or avoids tasks that require attention, it is exasperating to the entire team. Employees ready to complete their section of a project or assignment may be held up by their coworker’s inability to advance the work. Ultimately, procrastination in the workplace decreases productivity, increases stress and creates missed opportunities to attain shared goals.

5. Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a perspective that may seem as if it would only cause damage to oneself. Unfortunately, it creates ripples that negatively impact others as well. This self-sabotaging belief, which attributes achievements to luck and undermines self-confidence, can limit an individual’s ability to make a meaningful contribution at work. Feeling as if one has nothing of value to share significantly limits the potential for growth and success that arises when true collaboration and innovation take place.

How to Stop Self-Sabotage at Work and Attain Unparalleled Success

It is evident that, despite self-sabotage being an internal battle, the war that is waged has far-reaching and long-term effects. To conquer self-sabotage in the workplace, leaders should adopt a trauma-informed approach. By recognizing how to stop self-sabotage, leaders can offer empathy, guidance and support to employees silently struggling with self-sabotage and its harmful effects at work.

Incorporating trauma-informed care in the workplace allows employees, and not just those engaging in self-sabotaging habits, to feel a sense of belonging, well-being and safety.  

1. Set Practical and Actionable Goals

A successful approach to mitigating the effects of self-sabotage at work is to mentor employees on how to set realistic goals and subsequently break them down into smaller, manageable steps. Offering this guidance empowers employees to build momentum and gain confidence as they progress toward their objectives.  

2. Prioritize Self-Care 

Self-care is an excellent approach to conquering self-sabotage at work and at home. When one engages in activities that nurture their mental and emotional well-being, such as exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep and practicing mindfulness or meditation, it relieves stress and counteracts negative thoughts. Importantly, self-care also builds resilience which enhances overall well-being.

3. Mitigate Self-Sabotaging Behaviors with Education and Training

The key to combating the effects of self-sabotage at work is recognizing its intrusive thoughts and behavior patterns. Leaders can offer employees resources to break the cycle such as books, podcasts, workshops or coaching services that encourage a deeper understanding of the root causes of self-sabotage and how to stop it. Additionally, offering ongoing education and training fosters self-improvement and well-being.

4. Conquer Self-Sabotage with Mentorship and Guidance

Nobody can master self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors alone. In fact, one reason self-sabotage is so difficult to overcome is that it arises from within, which naturally feels isolating. It requires deep strength, willpower and dedication, all of which are more effective with the authentic support of professionals and trusted friends and family members.  

Leaders can encourage employees to accept support in the workplace by offering DEI programs or inviting a mental health keynote speaker to attend a staff meeting. These resources encompass mentorship opportunities and support networks that empower individuals to overcome self-sabotage by offering guidance, encouragement and role modeling.

5. Recognize the Internal Battle of Core Beliefs and Patterns

Identifying the core beliefs that result in cycles of self-sabotaging behavior is integral to understanding how to defeat it. Childhood adversity and trauma are key contributors to the internal battle being waged. As part of implementing trauma-informed care in the workplace, leaders may consider providing enriched DEI training to aid individuals in recognizing and confronting their unconscious biases, thereby reducing the likelihood of limiting beliefs or prejudices contributing to self-sabotage.  

Maintaining Momentum when Mitigating Self-Sabotage at Work

Leaders are integral to an employee’s journey toward defeating self-sabotaging behaviors. Establishing a trauma-informed workplace creates an environment that meets employees where they are on their distinct path to overcoming self-sabotage, and offering a safe space with empathy and understanding is essential to supporting the momentum they are gaining toward this goal. As part of the trauma-informed approach, encouraging self-care behaviors is a powerful way to demonstrate support for each individual’s unique quest toward overall well-being. 

Exploring the Healing Powers of Therapy and Journaling

Dealing with the trauma of self-sabotage can take over every aspect of an individual’s life. Without an outlet for expressing the emotions that arise, they will only intensify and manifest themselves into unhealthy behaviors. Encourage employees to explore sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings through journaling or professional therapy. Both are incredible methods for sparking self-reflection, gaining valuable insights and will aid in unearthing and defeating destructive patterns. 

Embracing Change through Accountability and Perseverance

It is essential to remain accountable and overcome obstacles with the support of professionals and other caring individuals. Without an action plan that includes accountability, realistic goals and steps to overcome setbacks, efforts to conquer self-sabotage may not stick. The most effective approach is to view it as an ongoing and adaptive journey rather than simply boxes that need to be checked. By remaining resilient, evaluating the approach and adjusting strategies as needed, both individuals and organizations can create growth and sustainable success. In an organizational setting, establishing DEI initiatives will foster openness, transparency, and effective communication as well as provide insights, support and opportunities for every individual to identify and challenge self-sabotaging behaviors.

Celebrating Wins on the Journey toward Well-Being

A powerful part of the journey toward overcoming self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors is to celebrate every single win. While there will always be obstacles and setbacks, feeling inspired by any level of success is the greatest way to ensure it continues. Leaders can celebrate progress by acknowledging milestones, cultivating a positive culture, encouraging self-reflection and approaching mistakes as learning opportunities.

Transforming Sabotage into a Successful Trauma-Informed Workplace

An organization’s strength is its employees. Trauma-informed leadership understands this and recognizes that each individual brings their unique perspectives, emotions and experiences to work with them. Engaging the expert support of a mental health speaker to guide the development and implementation of trauma-informed practices will show employees that their well-being is paramount.

By demonstrating empathy, compassion and care in a manner that works for each individual, leaders can foster an inclusive, supportive and safe workplace culture where every employee feels seen, heard and valued. This environment will empower employees to become stronger than their self-sabotaging thoughts.